Biblical Basis for Jubilee

The Jubilee USA Network is an alliance of more than 75 religious denominations and faith communities, human rights, environmental, labor, student, and community groups working for the definitive cancellation of odious and illegitimate debts, and implementing responsible lending and borrowing practices, especially on behalf of nation states in the global south. The Jubilee movement helps motivate the Church worldwide to action on behalf of the world’s poor.

As a faith-based organization, we draw our inspiration from the biblical description of the Jubilee year, described in the Torah or Old Testament:

Leviticus 25:10
And you shall hallow the 50th year and you shall proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a [year of] jubilee: for you shall return, every one of you, to your property and every one of you to your family.

Lev. 25:39-41
If any who are dependent on you become so impoverished that they sell themselves to you, you shall not make them serve as slaves. They shall remain with you as hired or bound laborers. They shall serve you until the year of jubilee. Then, they and their children with them shall be free from your authority, they shall go back to their own family and return to their ancestral property.

And, one scriptural basis for Remission of Debts as well as precedent for Sabbaticals:

Deuteronomy 15:1-2
Every 7th year you shall grant a remission of debts. And this is the manner of the remission: every creditor shall remit the claim that is held against a neighbor, not exacting it of a neighbor who is a member of the community, because the Lord’s remission has been proclaimed

Holding values of economic justice in common across many cultures and religions is at the heart of the worldwide Jubilee movement.  The Millennium Development Goals of the UN express the tremendous challenge before us politically, environmentally, technologically.  Humanity is created in God’s image.  And faith in God, understood as making the Sabbath for human beings–not for humans to serve immoral, exploitive economic systems–makes all things possible

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